Atkinson, M. , Renner, E. , Kean, D. , Wilks, C. & Caldwell, C.
University of Stirling
Human culture is unique in that many traits continually adapt as they are transmitted, increasing in functionality, adaptivity, or complexity. The potential for this relies on the premise that learning socially is typically more effective than an individual's own exploration. Gaining insights into human use of social and individual information relative to that of other species may therefore shed light on the mechanisms which underpin human-specific culture, while comparison across human populations will also assess the proposal that use of social and individual information may itself be culturally-dependent.
We investigate the acquisition of a simple 'win-stay, lose-shift' strategy in 2-5-year-old children in the UK and China, and in two non-human species: capuchins and squirrel monkeys. Participants attempt to locate a reward concealed by one of a set of 2-dimensional objects, after receiving information about the location of the reward relative to one of the objects. We manipulate (a) whether that information was socially- or individually-acquired, and (b) whether the object did or did not conceal the reward. We then compare our findings to equivalent tasks in which children and monkeys are instead presented with 3-dimensional objects, and in which children are presented with a task requiring a win-shift, lose-stay strategy.